Imagine if I asked you what features you’d like to see in a new full frame DSLR for both video and stills use. For me it would probably be higher frame rates (stills and video), view finder in video mode, clean hdmi out, and better auto focus. Add to that full time auto focus in video mode, optional XLR input adapter, dual SD card slots, in camera image stabilization and a couple of other decent improvements (like a real hot shoe) and you have the Sony A99. Apparently Sony’s been listening.

The Sony A99 is also about $500 less then Canon’s 5d mark III which puts it in an interesting spot. However there are a few things about this camera that raise flags. The first thing is that Sony’s translucent mirror technology reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor. From the test images I’ve seen so far, this seems to reduce the A99‘s low light performance compared to other full frame cameras. Next up is that the 105 point AF system only works with select Sony lenses and even when it is working the AF points are cluster very close to the center of the image. If you don’t have one of the supported Sony lenses you really only have 19 points of AF to work with which are also clustered around the center of the frame.

The Biggest issue for me however is the lens selection. Right now there just aren’t that many lenses to choose from for this mount, sure you have a few basic zooms and a couple of primes but that’s about it. You’ll have to look into third party glass if you want to expand your options.

It’s also hard for me to consider switching brands when I have such a large lens investment. Yes I know I could use some kind of adapter for Canon mount lens, but that’s just another chance for something to go bad. Don’t get me wrong, the Sony A99 is definitely a step in the right direction and depending on your needs it could be a very reasonable choice. If Sony could just improve the low light performance a bit more and release a wider selection of lenses I think this camera would really take off.

If you’re just moving into full frame cameras, and only need a couple of zoom lenses the Sony A99 looks like a great buy. If you’re looking for a large selection of primes that take advantage of all of the advanced features you might be disappointed. Two more things to fix and this camera would be perfect.

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